19 August, 2009

Culture shock or not?

When i was working in Japan, one of the most common questions my students asked was, "What were your first impressions when you came to Japan?"
That was a really difficult question for me as
a) it was so long ago (1991) and,
b) for me, that time was more about adapting into a new all-girl Catholic school than adapting to a new culture.
I really don't remember having (m)any impressions about Japan/Tokyo, although i must have had had some.
So, that's one reason why i'm sharing my impressions on moving to Germany - to remember my first impressions this time around.

I've also read a lot about culture shock and its phases. Originally, i read about it so i could facilitate discussions in my classes for students being transferred overseas. In the last 6 months or so, i re-read it all in the hope that 'forewarned is forearmed'.
There are four basic stages of culture shock; names and the order vary according to different books, but they are, basically, the same thing.
1. Excitement
In this stage everything is wonderful & the new country is the best place EVER
2. Frustration
Everything becomes annoying & individuals become frustrated and/or in their inability to communicate/function in the new country
3. Anger/Depression
Everything seems hopeless & it seems impossible that the individual will ever truly settle in the new country
4. Acceptence
The person accepts that things will always be different, but is OK with that & feels at home in the new culture.

Has this knowledge helped me?
Honestly, no.
I've been completely blind-sided by something else completely. I never expected that i would be overwhelmed by the loss of my independence. At the moment, i am not working, i am completely financially dependent on K, i have none of my own friends here (but K's friends are all great people) and i spend most of my weekdays (in the day time) alone.
This IS a temporary situation (just to the end of this month) & i know that; but the knowledge doesn't help. It's hard to explain, but i feel stuck, lost & useless. Maybe this is tied into culture shock too, i really don't know.
All i know is that, believe it or not, i hate not working.
If K wasn't working either, then it would be a very different situation. But from 8am to 7 or 8pm everyday, i am here & he's at work. It's much harder than i thought it would be. It's not much fun going to the park or into town on your own. While i do enjoy time on my own, 12 hours a day, 5 days a week is a tad too much.

But saying all that, I do NOT regret moving here. I haven't regretted it once.
Of course, I miss my J-friends. But, surprisingly, i don't miss Japan. I thought i would, and i am sure this will change, but right now, i would rather be here in my lonely hausfrau life.

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